We arrived in London on Mother’s Day in early May and were welcomed by brilliant Spring sunshine and flowers. For the next two days, we would be gifted with England’s finest weather and the following two days with typical London in the spring: Rain, rain and more rain. Thankfully, we got a little bit of both because four days in London in the pouring rain would not have been much fun for sightseeing and taking pictures.
We stayed at the Citadines which rents out apartments and was centrally located a block away from Trafalgar Square making it the perfect base for exploring Central London. We had a two bedroom flat for the three of us and it was fantastic to have the extra space. Even better however was how close we were to every main tourist attraction: Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, the river Thames, the parks, theater, restaurants and loads of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Everything was literally a few minutes walk away which was delightful given how much time we spent on our feet.
The first full morning in London was sensational with sunny blue skies and record temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees (26 C). We could hardly believe our luck and rest assured, it was definitely going to be running out soon as two days later we would be wallowing in the notorious wet and dreary London rain.
We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a stroll through the park towards Buckingham Palace where we would watch the famous changing of the guards that typically occurs daily at 11:30 at Buckingham Palace. We left shortly after a late breakfast and headed towards the Mall leading to the palace.
Entering the Pall Mall, a long tree-lined street that passes next to St. James Park and brings you to Buckingham Palace.
The Changing of the Guard is a 500-year old ceremony where the Old Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace to the New Guard. Perhaps one of the top tourist attractions in London, it is a must-see for any visitor. Although I’m not one for touristy things I will admit it was interesting to witness. I was truly mesmerized by the beautiful black horses rode by the guardsman and the gorgeous gardens and grounds surrounding the palace.
During the ceremony, “immaculately turned out guards, precision drill and bands playing stirring music all combine to make Changing of the Guard one of London’s most popular attractions that epitomizes the pomp and military ceremony for which Britain is famous. When the Royal Standard is flying, from the roof of Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty The Queen is in residence and the ‘Queen’s Guard’ will consist of 3 officers and 40 men otherwise the guard will be composed of 3 officers and 31 men”. (Source: Changing-Guard.com)
We left around 10:30 and it was already getting crowded with camera-clad tourists and groups headed to Buckingham Palace to claim their spots. Judging by the crowds, it you wanted any chance of getting close and snapping a photo of the changing of the guards you best be there at least an hour early. We weren’t particularly concerned with fighting the crowds and instead wanted to take our time getting there. I’m glad we did as little did we know, the changing of the horse guards would be first.
Right as we were able to cross the street to St. James Park, we saw a line of majestic black horses and guards heading our way to the horse guard station. We stopped in our tracks and watched in awe as these beautiful creatures passed us by.
The London Eye is in the background
The changing of the horse guard ceremony took at least twenty minutes and was all pomp and ceremony with lots of flashes of the camera, selfie sticks and videos by the mesmerized tourists. I was amazed how the horses ignored the swarming crowds and stood there so patiently and majestically.
After the changing of the horse guards, it was the marching band that would lead to Buckingham Palace for the official Changing of the Guards. We followed along at a quickened pace trying to beat the crowds and snap a few photos of the funny black hats and stoic uniforms.
And then they arrived at Buckingham Palace to the frenzy of tourists trying to capture a view of the Changing of the Guards.
We couldn’t get any closer for a better view so we decided to head back through lovely St. James Garden where the spring flowers were in full bloom. Everyone in London was out enjoying the day and the gardens were packed with Londoners getting their fill of nature and greenery. I couldn’t think of a more perfect day to be there.
Leaving Buckingham Palace and looking back towards Central London
I was in heaven as I absolutely love flowers. The gardens were absolutely spectacular, bursting with brilliant colors. I could have spent the entire day simply visiting the gardens of London and taking pictures.
The flowers were in jubilant bloom and bursting to the sky. There were also gorgeous fragrant flowering trees within the park and alongside the historic homes of London. I really loved this tree below that was layered in white blossoms. I have no idea what kind it is but would love one in my backyard at home.
By the time we reached the end of St. James Garden, our stomachs were growling and it was time for the next adventure: Lunch. With so many choices, it was bound to take us a long time to decide on a place to eat.
If you go:
Changing-Guard.com is loaded with history, details and assistance for tourists who want to find the perfect place to view the Changing of the Guards. It even tells you the songs the band plays, the guards routes, and lists special events.
This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant.